A contractual employee of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad has been arrested for passing confidential defence information on India’s missile development to an alleged ISI operative in Pakistan through social media. The 29-year-old accused, identified as Dukka Mallikarjuna Reddy alias Arjun Bittu was arrested from his residence in Triveni Nagar, Balapur, Hyderabad during a joint operation by the Special Operations Team, LB Nagar Zone, Rachakonda, and Balapur police on June 17, Friday.
The arrest was made under the supervision of Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat, Additional Commissioner of Police G Sudheer Babu, LB Nagar DCP Sunpreeth Singh, DCP (SOT) K Muralidhar and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Operations Team, Rachakonda.
“On June 17, 2022, on credible information, the Sleuths of Special Operations Team, LB Nagar Zone, Rachakonda in a joint operation with Balapur Police, arrested the contractual employee of Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) who has shared the highly secured and confidential information of DRDL-RCI Complex through social media to a suspected ISI female handler which is prone to create harm to national integrity and security,” a statement issued by the police read.
Reddy has been booked under sections 409 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 3 (1) (C), 5 (3), 5 (1) (A) of Official Secret Act-1923 at Balapur Police Station of Rachakonda Police Commissionerate. His two mobile phones, a SIM card, and a laptop have also been seized by the authorities.
Pakistan’s ISI operative honey traps Hyderabad DRDL employee under the pretext of marriage
According to reports, Reddy was working on a classified advanced naval system programme at the defence lab’s RCI complex in Balapur, Hyderabad. He updated his job status with DRDL on Facebook in March 2018. Two years later, in March 2020, he was contacted by a Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) handler using the name Natasha Rao. She introduced herself as a UK Defence Journal employee whose father served in the Indian Air Force before relocating to the United Kingdom.
Natasha Rao alias Simran Chopra alias Omisha Addie befriended Reddy on social media and then honey-trapped him under the pretext of love and marriage, and asked him to leak sensitive information about the DRDL-RCI Complex.
According to reports, Reddy kept transferring confidential defence details to the ISI handler until December last year, but he became suspicious when Natasha changed her Facebook profile name to Simran Chopra and stopped chatting with him. During the investigation, the police found that Natasha had also sought the bank account details of Reddy, but they are yet to confirm if she transferred money from the account or not.
Several cases of honey trapping have emerged in recent times
On September 13, 2021, an investigation team of CIA-3 Ludhiana and Counter-Intelligence Ludhiana arrested one Jaswinder Singh over alleged links with a Pakistani spy who identified herself to him as Jasleen Brar from Bathinda. As per Paramjit Singh, Ludhiana Police Commissioner, Jaswinder has been accused of providing access to Indian defence personnel to the spy.
In June 2021, Delhi Police arrested a 40-year-old man for impersonating an Indian Army Officer. He revealed during interrogation that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI) was trying to honey trap him as they considered him to be a real officer.
In January 2021, Rajasthan CID in a joint operation detained the husband of a former sarpanch, identified as Satyanarayan Paliwal, based on intelligence input. As per the reports, he was honey-trapped by the women’s wing of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. During his interrogation, Paliwal confessed that he had shared confidential documents on social media.
In fact, in the wake of the sensational arrest of the BrahMos engineer in the year 2018 for allegedly spying for Pakistan, the Intelligence Bureau had issued a high alert against the hostile neighbour’s ‘honeytrap’ strategy, which is prevalent in India. The alert had stated that Pakistan’s ISI has been utilizing good-looking Chinese and Pakistani girls to lure and set the trap on high-ranking officials and those involved in dealing with sensitive information.